Christmas Here in 1880

Dublin Core


Christmas Here in 1880


The weekly newspapers in Richmond during the Christmas season in 1880 had none of the large display ads for gifts and decorations that we find this season.

Judging from the space that the newspapers devoted to the various subjects, there was more interest in livestock, railroading, property transfers and "end of the year" business than in the Christmas season. Services at the various churches were announced for Christmas morning, and family dinners in private homes were the main social events. Christmas trees and Santa Clause (St. Nicholas in those days) were scarcely mentioned in print.

Wm. Thalheimer's Great Louisville Store on Main St. pointed out that his going-out-of-business sale afforded customers a chance to buy “Christmas and Holiday presents at your own price.” Dry goods, boots and shoes were 20 per cent off, as were ladies' and gents furnishings.

D.P. Armer advertised that he had holiday presents at his jewelry store: J.O. Dunn & Co. stated that they had a "Grand Exposition Display of Useful and Ornamental Articles specially adapted for Holiday gifts," but like so many other ads offered no specific items or prices. Other merchants were advertising their regular goods such as patent medicines, stoves, plows and horse collars without any mention of Christmas.

The Kentucky Register of Dec. 24,1880, had major articles on the danger of toy pistols, the distillery at Silver Creek and a new shipment of Shropshire sheep from England. The toy pistols used 22 cal. blanks for which could be substituted real 22 cal. bullets. A 12-year old boy at Paint Lick was the first in the area to be wounded by that type of Christmas "toy."

Despite the biting cold that year, sleigh riding became quite popular during the holiday season. While the courting couples took off to the tinkle of sleigh bells, the women admired their new clothes and the girls played with the new dolls. The younger boys were busy outside with a fresh supply of firecrackers; and the men and older boys tried out their new guns in the fields.


Dr. Robert Grise




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Dr. Robert Grise, “Christmas Here in 1880,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed May 19, 2024,